If you only do one thing when you visit San Diego, go to the Zoo.
The San Diego Zoo was kind enough to provide my family with 1-Day passes to visit the zoo and share the experience with you. Despite being hosted (tickets were free), I can assure you that it is my honest opinion that the animals were adorable.
The zoo was on the top of my list of places to visit on our San Diego trip. We arrived at 9:30 am and left (reluctantly) at 4:30 pm when we had to catch our flight home. We saw all the animals, traveled across the zoo on the Skyfari Aerial Tram, and enjoyed the Guided Bus Tour. But there was still so much more that we couldn’t fit in like animal encounters and shows.
The zoo has over 3,500 different animals from over 650 different species and subspecies. That is a LOT of animals. But there are just SIX reasons why I think the San Diego Zoo is the best zoo ever (and only three of them are bears).
Our first stop was to visit the stars of the San Diego Zoo – Bai Yun, Gao Gao, and Xiao Liwu. With much anticipation, we arrived to find that the pandas were asleep. Because that’s what pandas do. They eat and sleep. And because they aren’t stupid, they sleep in the shade, which makes it hard to get a good look at them. Here’s a fun fact for you. In the wild, a panda poops around 50 times a day. So I guess it is more accurate to say that all pandas do is eat, sleep, and poop.
When I was in grade school, my family made a one-day trip to San Diego to visit the zoo. At the time, my best friend and I were koala-crazy. All I remember from the visit is the koalas. Well, 40-years later and they were still the highlight of my visit. The San Diego Zoo is home to the largest colony of koalas living outside of Australia. There are twenty living at the zoo and another thirty on loan to other zoos. I’m not sure why they wouldn’t loan one to me to take home.
Polar Bears? In California? The San Diego Zoo is home to three polar bears orphaned as babies in the wild. During our visit, the bears were content to hang out on land. To cool off, they take a dip in the water where they can swim up to 6 miles per hour.
After watching the San Diego Zoo orangutans, I decided they are not much different than humans. Toddler Aisha (in the top picture) never stopped moving. When she wasn’t swinging around the enclosure, she would climb a pole and slide down as she swung around in circles. Mom Indah just wanted everyone to leave her alone. She was trying to sleep in a hammock with a blanket pulled over her head. Dad Satu sauntered in and preceded to try to wake up Indah before giving up to find a shady place to chill out. “Aunt” Karen looked over Aisha to make sure she didn’t get into too much trouble.
San Diego Zoo Animal Buddies
The most surprising exhibit in the zoo was the cheetahs and their golden retrievers. Cheetahs and retrievers are raised together from the time they are pups. The cheetahs take their social cues from the dogs, which make the unlikely pair perfect as San Diego Zoo ambassadors that appear together at special Zoo events.
I think even the sea otters themselves know how cute they are. Just look at them. Curled up together their adorable little bodies almost form a heart. I seriously could sit and watch otters all day long.
These are just six of the incredible animals you will see if you visit the San Diego Zoo. Make sure the zoo is at the top of your “to-do list” on your San Diego vacation.